Hawkins was the brother of Edwin Hawkins, Daniel Hawkins (Marcia), Feddie Hawkins Smith, Carol Hawkins Kemp and Lynette Hawkins-Stephens. Bishop Hawkins was married to Tramaine Hawkins, they had two children, a son Walter “Jamie” Hawkins, Jr., who is married to Myiia “Sunny” Davis-Hawkins, and a daughter Trystan Hawkins. Bishop Hawkins also had a granddaughter, Jahve Hawkins, and a grandson, Jamie Daniel Hawkins.
Bishop Hawkins started his career in one of his brother’s chorales, “The Northern California State Youth Choir” of the Church of God in Christ. Later, he accompanied his brother Edwin and founded The Edwin Hawkins Singers. This collaborative effort produced the hit song “Oh Happy Day”, which became one of the first gospel songs to cross over onto mainstream music charts.
Walter Hawkins left The Edwin Hawkins Singers in the early 1970s to establish the Love Center Church in Oakland, California. He and his Love Center Choir had considerable success with their “Love Alive” series of recordings, which sold well over a million copies from the 1970s through the 1990s. “Love Alive IV”, released in 1990, was No. 1 on the Billboard Gospel Album charts, where it stayed for 33 weeks. In all, Walter Hawkins produced and/or collaborated on 116 hit songs which were listed on the Billboard Gospel Music charts.
Walter Hawkins and his groups were frequent musical collaborators, and recorded with Van Morrison, Diahann Carroll, Sylvester, Jeffrey Osborne, among many others.
One of those who regularly attended the Love Center church was Sylvester, who had been introduced to it in the early 1980s by Jeanie Tracy.